PORT MAITLAND - The source for sewage pollution that some Port Maitland residents say they’ve seen in the harbour and on the beach remains unknown.
In response to claims that the sewage treatment plant for the area is the source, the Municipality of Yarmouth held an open house at the fire hall on Nov. 19 with videos, tours of the plant, photos of the treatment process and a presentation by Tom Austin, a senior environmental engineer with ABL Environmental Consultants Ltd.
Austin presented a detailed account of the plant’s design and technology. In his final remarks, he said the plant is as good as any plant anywhere and that it’s better than most plants.
“This plant is working, it’s working the way it should work. It’s doing the job it should do.”
Kent Smith, a resident of the area for at least 60 years and caretaker for the Port Maitland provincial park, disagreed with the information presented.
“I've observed the overflow coming out of the pipe. I've seen debris on the beach, dead lobsters. I’ve seen dead birds. Can you explain this to me?”
Austin replied, “Just because you see a dead lobster or a dead bird doesn’t mean the treatment plant is the source of it.”
Smith added that his grandchildren walk the beach and go in the water and that this summer one of his granddaughters had sores all over her back after doing so.
In mid-October, the municipality facilitated a multi-governmental conference call with federal and provincial departments to discuss the issue.
Victoria Brooks, CAO for the Municipality of Yarmouth, says the municipality has no authority, no legislative power, to impact what they (other government agencies) do or don’t do.
“We’ve done what we were asked to do. We’ve written the letters we were asked to write. Now we have to wait for the responses,” she said.
“We have a responsibility to make sure our plant, your plant, operates properly, that the discharge from your homes is not the cause of the problem. That’s our responsibility to you. That’s what we’re doing.”
Warden Leland Anthony says the government agencies may get back to the municipality next month or as late as next summer.
“This wasn’t the only area in Nova Scotia that had (beach pollution) issues this summer. I personally believe it was our hot summer.”
Bill Curry owns 900 feet of the beach next to the park.
“When you say ‘they’ll get back to us next summer,’ I’m sorry, that’s not good enough for me,” he said.
Brooks added that the citizens of Port Maitland have every right to organize and lobby alongside the municipality by contacting their MLA and member of Parliament.
Contact info for MLA Zach Churchill
MP Colin Fraser
Save Port Maitland Beach is a Facebook Group formed to share information submitted by residents related to the pollution that's occurring in the area.